Indoor farms could boost food production, but energy-friendly alternatives exist

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Image: Robotics Business Review

By 2050, global food production will need to increase by an estimated 70% in developed countries and 100% in developing countries to match current trends in population growth …. But in countries that already use the majority of their land for farming, this is easier said than done.

A company in Scotland has unveiled what it claims is arguably the world’s most technically advanced indoor farm. Intelligent Growth Solutions’ vertical farm …. reduces energy costs by 50% and labor costs by 80% …. and can produce yields of up to 200% more than that of a traditional greenhouse.

But …. increased productivity of indoor vertical farming comes at the cost of much higher energy usage due to the need for artificial lighting and climate control systems.

Related article:  Viewpoint: 70% of consumers say 'natural' food is healthier, but there's no science behind the marketing hype

For example, lettuces grown in traditionally heated greenhouses in the UK need an estimated 250kWh of energy a year for every square meter of growing area. In comparison, lettuces grown in a purpose built vertical farm need an estimated 3,500kWh a year for each square meter of growing area ….

A plethora of naturally lit methods also exist, from raised beds in communal gardens to rooftop aquaponic systems that grow food with the help of fish. These methods all require less energy when compared to vertical farming because they don’t need artificial lighting.

Read full, original article: Food security: vertical farming sounds fantastic until you consider its energy use

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